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Beyond the Bale : September 2019
32 ON FARM 161 young people from 23 educational institutions across Australia came together in May for the National Merino Challenge (NMC), an AWI initiative that has established itself as a leading education program for students interested in a career in the wool industry. Held in Sydney this year, the NMC involves FAST FACTS • 161 young people from across Australia enjoyed an introduction to the wool industry at this year’s National Merino Challenge. • Now in its seventh year, the AWI educational initiative connects the future generation of the wool industry with industry professionals, highlighting an array of careers which involve working with wool. • Students participate in seven ‘mini-challenges’ across two days. Flinders Christian Community College was the Champion Team in the secondary school division, whilst Charles Sturt University was the Champion Team in the tertiary division. NATIONAL MERINO CHALLENGE 2019 presentations and demonstrations from industry professionals to enable young people to develop their industry knowledge, skills and networks. Now in its seventh year, the annual two-day event has provided nearly 800 secondary and tertiary students with the basic skills involved in the wool industry – both traditional and modern methods – as well as an understanding of the career opportunities within the industry. Annual participation in the event has more than tripled since the first NMC was held in 2013. During this year’s two-day event, the students were educated and then assessed on their skills across a wide range of areas such as feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives and wool harvesting together with the commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces. Techniques from several well-known industry initiatives, such as MERINOSELECT, Lifetime Ewe Management and Visual Sheep Scores, were used throughout the NMC, giving students a realistic and practical insight into the tools available to woolgrowers to make more informed decisions. Students also enjoyed the NMC Industry Dinner on the Saturday evening and said they relished the opportunity to spend time with a range of wool industry participants, from woolgrowers to wool brokers and researchers. Networking among fellow ag students and wool industry professionals is a major part of the NMC. AWI’s General Manager of Operations Nigel Gosse said transferring best practice skills and knowledge to future Merino industry participants is important for the industry’s future. “The competition was strong, and it was encouraging to see the energy and enthusiasm of the students as they developed their knowledge and learnt new skills. It was also rewarding to see the event giving young people an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries,” Nigel said. AWI thanks the partners of the 2019 NMC: Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, NSW Stud Merino Breeders' Association, NSW Department of Primary Industry, Australian Wool Education Trust, Fox and Lillie Rural, Techwool Trading, Australian Wool Network (AWN) as well as the dedicated volunteers for their time and expertise. A supporter of the NMC since 2013, AWN’s participation this year also included the provision of a team of five of its young staff members who, while not taking part in competition, were able to increase their practical knowledge and experience of wool. MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/NMC
In the Shops - September 2019